In a typical organization, the social media tweets away in one department while content writers toil away in another. The social team links to fresh content, sure… and that’s about the extent of their interactions. But, at the end of the day, what you post and share on social media is content, and it’s time we start treating our social postings with the same amount of gravity as we do our content.
Fact: social media posts are content. They may be abbreviated and (in some cases) more casual, but they’re content all the same. They’re written to get attention; they can be optimized for search and deliver powerful search signals; and when done right, they are written and posted with a clear goal in mind — a goal that is directly beneficial to the company.
Just like with content: if your content isn’t beneficial to your company, why write it? If your social media posts don’t do anything of value for your business, why waste your time on it?
Social media is not a random outlet or a sounding point. It is not a place for blind self-promotion. It is a tool, one that should be wielded with care and forethought. Furthermore, content and social must be integrated into one strategy.
How To Sync Your Content & Your Social Strategy
1. Create a Clear Social Posting Schedule & Integrate It With Your Content Schedule
Plan out your social posts and schedule them regularly. If it seems overwhelming, remember that most networks really only need a minimum of one (quality!) post from you per day.
On Twitter, where you’re expected to post more frequently, you can use tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule tweets for the future. Scheduling your posts in advance also ensures no social network is neglected or forgotten; furthermore, a set schedule will help.
2. Run Your Posts Past Another Person
The same way you’d run content past an editor, it’s a good idea to run the day’s planned social posts past another person — especially if you have a larger social team.
Another person can spot any typos or flag any post that might be controversial (or start an unwanted or distracting debate). If you’re tweeting numerous times a day, obviously this is unrealistic, but you can still ask someone to look over longer posts on Facebook, Google+, or Tumblr.
Remember, a post on social media is the first introduction a reader will have with your content: if it’s littered with typos or does a poor job of showing what the content’s actually about, why should someone click the link to read more?
3. Build Anticipation For Your Content
In addition to doing follow-up tweets the day after (for those who missed the initial content posting), consider doing warm-up posts for your content (a “teaser” photo, a quote from the article, a related reader survey, etc.).
Finally, it should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: actually read the content you’re about to share before you share it. Read the whole thing. Otherwise, you won’t be able to answer any questions asked about the content you shared, or worse, you may post an inaccurate synopsis of a post when you share it.
4. Know (And Write For) Your Audience
Tailor your posts to your audience the exact same way you would with your content. Write to that audience. Engage them. Spark discussions. Find out what they respond to. Find out what they want to talk about instead of forcing them to talk about whatever new thing your company is most excited about.
5. Respond To Every Question
Just like you’d answer every comment on your blog, answer every follower. Let no tweet go ignored, no Facebook question unanswered. On Facebook and other social networks, aim for a response within at least within 24 hours (weekends excepted); on Twitter, where users expect a faster turnaround time, aim for an answer within a few hours.
6. Make Your Promotional Posts Social.
You’re sharing on social media — why ignore the social aspect? When you share content on social media on Facebook or Google+, include an interactive tie-in: “What should’ve made the list?” or “Who did we miss?” for list posts; “What do you think?” type questions for controversial posts, etc. You can seize the opportunity to promote your content and start a conversation at the same time. You may even find that people who wouldn’t comment on the site itself are more likely to join in the conversation on social media.
7. No Original Content To Share? Curate!
What do you do when you don’t have original content for your blog? You curate: share a link roundup, share an infographic, post your own take on a controversial article, etc.
So, what should you do when you don’t have original content to share on social media? Curate! Tweet a link, share a picture on Facebook, or share another person’s post on Google+. You’re still adding something meaningful to the discussion (even though you’re not adding something you created).
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Optimize
With the exception of “walled garden” sites like Facebook, your social posts can and will show up in Web searches. A little optimization goes a long way — stick with using a keyword in your Twitter bio or one key phrase in the occasional Google+ post. Remember, the focus in your social strategy should always be humans, not search engines. If a key phrase fits naturally, use it. If not, don’t run the risk of alienating your audience by over-optimizing your posts.
9. Create Clear Goals (And Track Your Progress Accordingly)
Why are you on social media? What do you hope to achieve? Create both short-term (increase customer interaction or site pageviews) goals and long-term objectives (increase customer satisfaction, increase brand awareness). For more information, there’s always my recent post on tracking search and social KPIs.
Content Gets Even More Social: The Rise of Shareable Microcontent
With the rise of microcontent, social and content are becoming more linked than ever before. A photo you post on Facebook can have just as much impact as a blog post. A white paper can be broken down into pieces and shared incrementally on social networks. Content is becoming increasingly fractured and segmented for easy consumption. As this piece on prescription drug abuse indicates, even lengthy pieces of content can be broken down into easily digestible, aesthetically pleasing pieces.
Even big players like Mashable are jumping on board the microcontent platform. The old Mashable design read like a traditional newsfeed, with text-heavy headlines strewn across the page chronologically.
The new Mashable is dynamic, picture-based, and focused on what’s being shared the most. The “What’s Hot” column, a column featuring the most popular stories, shows large, high-resolution pictures along with a quick excerpt from the story. Even without clicking through to read any of the stories, the audience has a pretty good idea of the days’ hottest news.
Furthermore, social sharing is increasingly becoming micro, with startups like Markerly making it possible to share fragments of content (such as a picture on Pinterest or a quote on Twitter) instead of the entire thing. The company claims that 82% of sharing happens through copy and paste, and Markerly aims to make it easier for users to share these copied snippets of content while allowing content creators to track the sharing with clear analytics.
On the other side, it makes it much easier for content curators to share what interests them most, such as the most eye-catching or relevant photo or a segment from a much longer article that applies to them.
Let’s face it: your audience’s attention spans aren’t getting any longer. Microcontent isn’t a new trend or a fad. It’s the future. Making your content more social and making your social posts more like content are a win for your entire business — both your content and your social strategies.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.